May 10, 2024 / 2 Iyar 5784 • Parshat Kedoshim
Issue 820
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

You must rise before an elderly person, and
you must respect one who is elderly. You must
fear your G-d; I am G-d. 

Leviticus 19:32

In general, it is best that we pursue spiritual growth gradually, not venturing a new step until we have found our footing on the previous step. At the same time, however, the fact that G-d is infinite means that spiritual growth must reflect G-d’s infinity – that is, it must involve quantum leaps to levels of Divine consciousness that are infinitely higher than our present level. True, from our present perspective, it might seem naive to think that we can attain and maintain an infinitely higher level of spiritual consciousness. But this belief is not only not naive – since we indeed posses infinite spiritual potential thanks to our inner, Divine soul – it is what keeps us young and idealistic.

This is the allegorical meaning of the phrase, “You must rise before an elderly person.” The Zohar interprets this phrase in accordance with its literal meaning, “Before old age, you must arise”: Before you succumb to “thinking old” – the attitude that you cannot remake yourself on a higher level – arise, i.e., habituate yourself to “thinking young” – the attitude that you can indeed ascend to infinitely higher levels of Divine consciousness.

--Daily Wisdom Volume 3